Proponents of a fracked natural gas pipeline through the Merrimack Valley may find their paths blocked by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
Healey yesterday announced a regional study to find out “how much additional gas is needed” and whether “that gas can by supplied by LNG or additional pipeline capacity.” With support from the Barr Foundation, Healey has retained Analysis Group, a Boston-based economic and financial consulting firm, to conduct the regional study.
“Our goal with this study is to identify the most cost-effective solutions for ratepayers that will also allow us to achieve our regional climate goals,” said Healey. “As the state makes long-term decisions about additional gas capacity investments, we should understand the facts—what the future demand is, and which cost-effective energy and efficiency resources can be deployed to meet that demand.”
Kinder Morgan and its subsidiary Tennessee Gas have proposed bringing gas from the Marcellus shale fields in Pennsylvania and New York to a central hub in Dracut. The line would pass through area communities.
Healey has called on the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to “rigorously study natural gas capacity needs before making any decisions regarding gas pipelines.” She also asked DPU to reconsider, in light of the study, its recent denial of the a motion to stay approval of certain local gas distribution companies’ proposed contracts to purchase gas capacity on the Kinder Morgan pipeline.
A key focus of the study will be determining whether more natural gas is needed in the region, and if so, how much more capacity is needed. The study will also be the first to consider a time period through the year 2030. Analysis Group will begin work immediately and is expected to be complete by October, the attorney general’s office said.
Mariella Puerto, senior program officer for Clean Energy at the Barr Foundation, said her firm is “pleased to support this research effort to ensure that energy decisions are informed by a solid research base about the most cost effective and sustainable solutions.”